Hypatia’s Editor and Reviews Editor Resign; Authority of Associate Editors “Temporarily Suspended”


The editor of feminist philosophy journal, Hypatia, Sally Scholz (Villanova University) and the editor of Hypatia Reviews OnlineShelley Wilcox (San Francisco State University), are resigning from their positions in the wake of the controversy surrounding the publication of “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel (Rhodes College). Meanwhile, the Board of Directors of Hypatia, the non-profit corporation that owns the journal, is taking “emergency measures to restore the academic integrity of the journal” and has “temporarily suspended the authority of the Associate Editorial Board.”

Readers may recall that the associate editors of Hypatia, responding to criticism on social media of the journal’s decision to publish Tuvel’s article, issued an unofficial apology in which they stated that the article “should not have been published.”  

Scholz will stay on until journal issues currently in production are published. Wilcox has already stepped down as Book Review Editor. The editors write:

The recent position taken by Hypatia’s Associate Editorial Board and the subsequent controversy has limited the ability of our editorial team to continue management of Hypatia and Hypatia Reviews Online while upholding the Journal’s high standards for scholarly inquiry, diversity, inclusiveness, and rigorous academic and review standards. 

The Board of Directors (who issued a statement on the controversy this past May), posted the following on the journal’s website this Thursday:

It is with disappointment and regret that the Board of Directors of Hypatia has received the news that Sally Scholz and Shelley Wilcox are resigning from their roles as editors of Hypatia. Throughout their tenure with the journal, they have stood by fundamental principles of publication ethics, which call upon all who are involved in the governance of a journal to respect the integrity of the peer-review process and to support authors published by the journal (with rare exceptions such as plagiarism and fraud). The Board is also committed to these principles and fully supports Scholz and Wilcox in their commitment to and execution of them.

Unfortunately, the Associate Editors’ public apology for the publication of an article failed to respect these principles. Their action, appearing to speak for the journal rather than as individuals, invited confusion over who speaks for Hypatia. It also damaged the reputations of both the journal and its Editors, Scholz and Wilcox, and has made it impossible for the Editors to maintain the public credibility and trust that peer reviewed academic journal editorship requires.

We wish to reiterate that neither Hypatia, nor the journal’s Editors, have apologized for or retracted the article in question. We also wish to reaffirm that the Associate Editors did not in any way speak for the journal, nor do they have authority to do so.

As the board ultimately responsible for the well-being of the journal, we find it necessary at this time to take emergency measures to restore the academic integrity of the journal and shepherd it through a transition period to a new editorial team. Thus, we have temporarily suspended the authority of the Associate Editorial Board. As detailed in the Editors’ statement, Sally Scholz has generously offered to continue to take Hypatia issues already in the works through production. Hypatia Reviews Online will be managed through January 1, 2018 by Joan Woolfrey and Simon Ruchti of West Chester University. We hope to announce an Interim Editor shortly. Villanova University is continuing its support of the journal office and Managing Editor until January 1, 2018. We do not forsee any interruption in the operation and publication of Hypatia.

Simultaneously, we are assembling a task force devoted to restructuring Hypatia’s governance in order to create a structure that is conducive to continued academic integrity and appropriate editorial autonomy, while maintaining resources for useful and diverse editorial advice. From this point forward, everyone involved in the governance of Hypatia will be required to commit to COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) principles, which include respect for the autonomy of the Editors and the integrity of the peer review process. We are focused on the future of Hypatia, and we hope to work with many in the Hypatia community and the broader communities of feminist philosophy in making the changes necessary to ensure that this future is a bright and inclusive one.

We are very sorry to see Sally Scholz and Shelley Wilcox depart Hypatia, especially under these circumstances. In their four years as an Editorial team, they have produced journal issues of the highest quality and they have undertaken many creative initiatives to further the cause of feminist philosophy. These include the expansion of Hypatia Reviews Online (tripling the number of book reviews), a major conference on diversity in philosophy, the creation of podcasts and videos to make the work of authors more accessible, and social media initiatives on Facebook and Twitter. They substantially increased the number and diversity of peer-reviewers, the readership of Hypatia, and Hypatia’s citation record. We are proud of what they have accomplished and thank them wholeheartedly for their service. We wish them well in their future endeavors.

Hypatia Board of Directors:
Miriam Solomon, President
Lisa Tessman, Chair
Leslie Francis, Treasurer
Heidi Grasswick, Secretary
Elizabeth Anderson, member at large

The statement is available on the Hypatia website.

For further information, see the controversy’s own Wikipedia page.

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George
George
3 years ago

Why can’t someone publish their ideas if done seriously and without malice? I haven’t read the piece, but why should controversial ideas be censured? Report

Mark N Lance
Mark N Lance
3 years ago

The principle that only fraud and plagiarism can justify retracting an article strikes me as a very bizarre one, and the suggestion that this is some sort of uncontroversial ethical principle strikes me as patently false. In the sciences, articles are commonly retracted when they, say, fail to properly analyze data, or ignore or misrepresent available data from other labs, or any number of other substantive failures that needn’t imply any illicit behavior. The idea is that it didn’t meet substantive academic standards, so it should not be published.
The AEB letter alleged just such substantive academic failures in this paper. I’m not going to argue again about whether they were right. That’s not the point. The point is that this statement, and much of the yelling on popular blogs, suggests that there is simply no room for that in philosophy, that things like failure to attend to relevant literature, misrepresentation of others’ views, ignorance of basic relevant empirical literature, was all ruled out as relevant a priori by some ethical principle.

I find this bizarre because I’m trying to understand how you have to think about what we do to endorse this. If, for example, one had a radically relativist position that nothing we do is truth conducive; it is just free-play literature, with no defensible epistemic standards, I can see why you would endorse this. But I doubt very much that those pressing this principle think that. but if not, what?Report

Chris Stephens
Chris Stephens
Reply to  Mark N Lance
3 years ago

While it may be true that in the sciences articles are retracted for reasons other than fraud and plagiarism, it would help me if you could point to such cases in philosophy. Otherwise, the suspicion is that it is politically motivated (in a problematic way) in this case. Are there articles in say – metaphysics or epistemology – that have been retracted on grounds other than fraud or plagiarism? Report

AcademicLurker
AcademicLurker
Reply to  Mark N Lance
3 years ago

I don’t know which fields of science you refer to, but in my area, it is not at all common to retract papers for reasons other than fraud. The only examples I know of were when it turned out that the company from which a lab had purchased their reagents had mislabeled things. In that case it meant that the study in question had never actually taken place, since the compound whose effects they were supposedly describing had not actually been used.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Mark N Lance
3 years ago

Mark Lance raises a point that came up several times in the original Hypatia furore: isn’t retraction for academic failings routine in the sciences, and if so, what’s wrong with it in philosophy? I didn’t and don’t think that’s right: that kind of retraction in the sciences isn’t analogous to any plausible academic-failings retraction in (most of) philosophy. Here’s a (probably too) lengthy explanation why.

The vast majority of papers published in the sciences report on experimental or observational data. The research done is the collection and analysing of that data; the paper is a report on the research, not the research itself. And one thing the journal is doing in publishing the paper is certifying that what is reported is *true*: that the experimenters really did do that research, and do it the way they said they did; that they really did get these results; that the dots on the graph really were produced by a statistical analysis of the data collected. So papers routinely get retracted when the journal stops being able to stand by that certification: for honest reasons (the experimenters themselves discover that they used the wrong rat or had a typo in their code), for dishonest reasons (image duplication, fabricated results), and for ‘grey’ reasons (the experimenters aren’t able to provide the raw dataset when asked). I think the vast majority of retractions in the sciences look like this. But in most of philosophy (and in theoretical physics, mathematics, and very occasionally elsewhere in the sciences) the paper *is* the research, not just a report of it. So this reason for retraction doesn’t apply.

Papers also get retracted, much more rarely, in the sciences because some formal technique is uncontentiously misused. For instance, a math paper might simply make a calculational error that invalidates the claimed result. One external way to see what “uncontentious” means here is that retraction for this reason is basically never contested; indeed, frequently it originates with the author. You can imagine something like that happening in philosophy in some of the more formal corners of logic and philosophy of physics, but the vast majority of philosophy is just not in the business of using formal tools in this way.

What basically doesn’t happen, in the sciences, is that a paper is retracted for non-uncontentious failings of reasoning or scholarship. In theoretical physics, for instance, papers are usually a mixture of formal calculations, approximation schemes, and verbal or semi-verbal arguments; it’s routine for one paper to claim that another’s argument is mistaken, and there are plenty of papers in the literature that everyone agrees are wrong – often quite soon after publication. But I’ve never once heard of a paper being *retracted* in theoretical physics for reasons like that. I think the same is true in the rest of science, though I know the literature less well: medical journals, for instance, are full of discussion of controversies about whether such-and-such experiment was properly designed or such-and-such effect size really justifies the claims being made, but papers don’t get retracted for flaws like that.

Put another way: what a journal is saying when it publishes a paper is, I take it:
1) Any experiments and observations described in the paper really did happen, the way the author(s) say they did, and the data thus collected is the basis of any analysis presented;
2) The formal mathematical claims made in the paper are correct;
3) The paper has been peer-reviewed in accordance with the journal’s policy and, on the confidential recommendation of the reviewer(s), the editors decided the paper is of sufficiently high scholarship and importance to be worth including in the public scholarly record;
4) This paper genuinely is the intellectual product of its author(s).

Only (3) and (4) apply in (most of) philosophy. And (3) is backward-looking (in philosophy as in the sciences): it doesn’t mean that the editors would make the same decision at a later point, just that it’s the decision they made through their duly-applied process.

Stepping from the descriptive to the normative, someone could ask: why should journals (in philosophy as well as science) adopt a different policy where (3) is constantly reassessed and papers are retracted (and un-retracted) as and when the editors’ academic judgement shifts. But (quite apart from being grossly unfair on authors given the role publications play in the academic economy, dangerously non-transparent, and wide open to various forms of abuse) it’s not really clear what retraction even *means* here. If a paper is retracted because it makes a data or math error, it’s obvious why I won’t want to quote from or cite it; ditto in plagiarism cases. But if I read a paper in a journal and then the editors retract it because in hindsight they don’t agree with its scholarship, it doesn’t and shouldn’t in any way prevent me from citing the paper and engaging with its arguments – in which case, in what sense is it really “retracted” at all?

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Adam Rigoni
Adam Rigoni
Reply to  David Wallace
3 years ago

To add to this, the CORE guidelines permit retractions when there is clear evidence that the findings are unreliable. You might argue that this applies to the Tuvel case, but in discussing this principle the CORE guidelines are clear that it is meant for cases of seriously flawed or erroneous data. I don’t know what you would identify as the data in the Tuvel article, or, in most philosophy article in general. Without data to be erroneous or flawed, the only CORE recognized grounds imply “illicit” behavior. I guess you can dispute whether the CORE guidelines are accepted ethical principles, but they seem generally accepted.

Guidelines here https://publicationethics.org/files/retraction%20guidelines.pdfReport

Peter Alward
Peter Alward
Reply to  Mark N Lance
3 years ago

Mark, it strikes that the principle here is one of procedural rather than substantive justice, ‘akin to the prohibition of double jeopardy in criminal cases (although I don’t want to overstate the analogy). The article went through an appropriate peer review process and flaws of the kind you identify were not picked up. Maybe a different set of referees would have picked them up — just as a different prosectorial team might have garnered a conviction in a criminal trial — but given the publishing procedures in place, we don’t get to ask for a redo just because we don’t like the outcome. Plagiarism and fraud are special cases b/c they entail that the paper wasn’t eligible to be considered for publication — and subjected to the review process — in the first case. One might, of course, advocate a different kind of review process, perhaps one in which articles are published only provisionally and can be retracted — or resubmitted to different referees — in the face of certain sorts of objections. But it might prove to be procedurally less just than the current norm. And it always remains open for folk to object to an article on the grounds you cite even if it isn’t retracted. Just a thought. Report

Jake
Jake
Reply to  Mark N Lance
3 years ago

The argument as to the legitimacy of retraction for reasons other than fraud is moot.

The fact of the matter is that the editorial board responded to a social media bully gaggle. To the extent that there was a claimed justification, it was that the author, Tuvel, had not read the “relevant literature.” This, however, is not a legitimate critique, but rather a demand to narrow debate to a particular ideological lens.

Frankly, it saddens me that the only repercussion to those responsible, is the loss of some unpaid work and perhaps missing out on a few conference junkets until this blows over.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Jake
3 years ago

Well, there are multiple issues here. Absolutely, the Associate Editors’ response was procedurally inappropriate even if there were grounds for retraction (as I said at the time, at some length). But it’s also important that people thought retraction even *might* have been an appropriate response, when it was clear even from the original Open Letter that there were no appropriate grounds.Report

Nate
Nate
3 years ago

I’m not sure I understand the reason for Scholz’s resignation. It was clear to me, and I’m sure many others, that (a) the Assistant Editors acted without Scholz’s knowledge or consent, (b) Scholz rightly, publicly condemned their actions and stood by the journal and by Tuvel, and (c) in light of the above letter, the Board of Directors agrees that Scholz handled the situation correctly. If anything, this _increases_ confidence and trust in Scholz’s ability to “continue management of Hypatia and Hypatia Reviews Online while upholding the Journal’s high standards for scholarly inquiry, diversity, inclusiveness, and rigorous academic and review standards.” Wouldn’t the journal be better served by removing those members of the editorial board who violated the COPE principles in the first place?Report

udo schuklenk
udo schuklenk
Reply to  Nate
3 years ago

I don’t mean to be too presumptuous, and Dr Scholz can, and hopefully will speak for herself, but I would not be terribly surprised if the various pressures and the aggression she would have been subjected to by many of the activists calling for the paper’s withdrawal, as well as the realization that the majority of her Associate Editorial Board members demonstrated dismal unprofessional conduct and couldn’t even be fired by her, would have significantly contributed to her decision. It’s truly regrettable, but entirely understandable that she took this step. It’ll be up to the journal’s owners to fix these problems, and to start afresh, hopefully with more sensible governance structures. My respect to Dr Scholz!Report

Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
3 years ago

As someone who, as a jr. academic, is made continually aware of the academic philosophy community’s commitment to precision and clarity when it comes to argument construction and *analysis* (especially as particularly held by those ‘analytic philosophers’), I continue to find it rather bewildering that anyone with such an awareness (that these communities make policy out of paying close attention to what exactly a particular statement means) would think to have read in the apology issued by some of the members of Hypatia’s Board of Associate Editors a call for retraction. As one Associate Editor has recently stated, to say the article shouldn’t have been published is not to say that the mistake in its publishing was failing to meet the current editorial policies of Hypatia (it was not), let alone that its publication justified a retraction, but that it is those policies which bring into prudent question Hypatia’s commitment to what is academic excellence in feminist philosophy scholarship. Apparently nuance like that is sometimes lost even on us rigorously logical philosophers.Report

Dale Miller
Reply to  Paul Whitfield
3 years ago

The Associate Editors may not have called for retraction. However, there was a separate open letter signed by a fair number of people in the discipline that explicitly did do so: https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/alexis-shotwell-open-letter-to-hypatia/
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Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
Reply to  Dale Miller
3 years ago

And so, if I follow this comment as related to my own, it’s that because of the open letter, the AE’s apology is therefore grounds for the actions taken by the Directors? If that’s what you’re implying, Dale, I’m not perusaded such actions are prudent, myself.Report

Dale Miller
Reply to  Paul Whitfield
3 years ago

I didn’t say, and didn’t mean to imply, anything about the actions of the Board of Directors. I read your comment as expressing puzzlement about why other comments were discussing retraction.Report

Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
Reply to  Dale Miller
3 years ago

Apologies. Yes, I merely meant to discuss those comments that assume retraction was called for by the apology (as relevant to the above and the actions of the Directors reported in today’s nous).Report

postgrad
postgrad
Reply to  Paul Whitfield
3 years ago

The open letter called for retraction. And the Associate Editors expressed agreement with the open letter, and stated the article should never have been published. The implication is that they believed retraction justified. I think you’re splitting hairs.Report

Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
Reply to  postgrad
3 years ago

I think the point of rhetoric (especially PR rhetoric) is to do as much as one can given the circumstances, and find the apology to be a commendable attempt at what was needed considering what I, for example, think is central among the more longstanding take away from all of this (viz., along the lines of what I mean to mention in speaking of academic excellence in feminist philosophy scholarship, above). One person’s hairsplitting is another’s politic discretion in light of what a feminist philosophy means, it is, but, as apparent in my above, I, too, find myself bewildered by the irony in deliberating over the rigor of the paper yet not the apology. C’est la vie.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Paul Whitfield
3 years ago

The Associate Editors’ apology does also say:

“Several further types of responses have been suggested to us, including issuing a retraction … We continue to consider those responses and all of their potential ramifications thoughtfully.”

That’s not active support for retraction, but it’s not exactly a full-throated rejection of it either, especially given the Open Letter.

But more generally, there’s a fairly blurry line between journal editors saying “we retract this article” and their saying “this article, which we published, should not have been published”. (Of course, as it transpired, the Associate Editors aren’t exactly the journal editors, but their post does not make that clear and certainly reads as if they have editorial control.)Report

Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
Reply to  David Wallace
3 years ago

I’m not sure the line is as blurry, to me.

To be honest, David, I study feminist philosophy as an intended AOS (jr. academic, Phil MA). I’ve also, in this effort, taken some graduate courses with my university’s Women & Gender Studies department (WGS). I did so because my initial steps into feminist philosophy impressed on me the general, more-or-less cohesive element of praxis inherent in its theoretical commitments. For example, in her thoughtful reflections on the Hypatia affair, the Associate Editor I mention points to an article by Lugones & Spelman titled ‘Have We Got a Theory For You!’. (Notably, not a philosophy paper.) The title alone reveals a lot about the point of the article, which was also among the readings for one of my WGS courses. To keep things relevant, among doing a lot of other things, the article asks questions about the methodology of feminist theory generally that I have rarely found asked of the same in philosophy, myself. Their article is rather well-known in feminist theory, and might be considered a decent example of evidence of differences between philosophy and WGS, perhaps, and, accordingly, differences in a specialization of philosophy that holds affinities with their (WGS’) theoretical commitments: a.k.a. feminist philosophy.

I say all this because, as someone who is deeply interested in feminist philosophy, who has greatly profited from Hypatia as a reputable journal of feminist philosophy, and further who also currently stands to enter academic feminist philosophy professionally, I read that apology letter, which was issued by individuals who: (a) also, each in their own idiosyncratic ways, are involved in what I say here I’m involved in, involved in all of this feminist philosophizing, and (b) reasonably expect to be addressing (in the relevant main) other such individuals (so involved), and do so, then, writing their apology) in such ways that reflect that particular expectation of (a primarily feminist) audience and according (primarily feminist) theoretical commitments.

Simply put, considering this fact, I would think a feminist philosophy journal like Hypatia to be the kind of journal that can even *expect* its editors and members generally to be active, loud voices when it comes to imperative issues that are deeply contentious, and especially so when it comes to something like (the possible silencing and/or disregard of) epistemic commitments to the variety of individuals which feature as the object of study for feminist philosophy (like the objects of Tuvel’s paper, which, being quite unlike numbers and their mathematics, as you yourself note above, David, prudently merit quite different commitments on the part of scholars aiming to realize academic excellence vis-à-vis feminist philosophizing).

(Also, I’ve just tried to use my modifying ‘feminist philosophy’ into a distinguishable ‘feminist philosophizing’ to further illustrate the praxis at the heart of the discipline, where feminist commitments influence philosophical commitments and in such ways as one might not see, expect, or require from other such interdisciplinary studies, which is relevant, I think. Even their journals, as it were.)Report

Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
Reply to  David Wallace
3 years ago

To full-circle that reply, David, as I realize I’ve forgotten to while writing, insofar as the editors are feminist philosophers, there is a nuance to their involvement that would make reading the apology as you have seem mistaken (too blurry itself, as a reading) for someone who is involved in feminist philosophy. In my reply to post-grad, above, I note that the circumstances, on my reading, make the apology a good example of quick and informal, feminist PR rhetoric. When I read it the first time, mere hours after it was issued, I was actually taken aback at how well they were able to handle what had happened, how much they were able to do with what they had.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Paul Whitfield
3 years ago

Just briefly on this: lots of philosophers active in feminist philosophy seem to have read it the way I did, including the editor and Board of Directors of Hypatia. So I don’t think it’s plausible to claim that this is just the in-house style of feminist philosophy being misread by outsiders (putting aside the question of whether it would be sensible or appropriate to use any such in-house style in this context).Report

Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
Reply to  David Wallace
3 years ago

I did speak broadly there, David, thank you. It seems odd, even for me, considering what I was just saying about the pluralism of feminist philosophy, to think reaction to the apology by feminist philosophers so cohesive. I should’ve qualified my thoughts about the perspectives of the editors to just that: my perspective as someone involved in feminist philosophy. This whole affair itself seems to suggest that many things in/about feminist philosophy are hotly debated.Report

Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
Reply to  David Wallace
3 years ago

Well, if we consider the previous statements (notably, in fact, some about some specific policy changes they plan to work toward, conceptually separating the later mention of retraction into things they’re simply more aware of) , and consider the immediately prior, “Clearly there was a mistake along the line in the review process, and we are doing our best to figure out a way forward.” (perhaps positioning what is to come as things they themselves haven’t committed to the sense of actually stating to commit to them in the apology, which they had just done), I don’t read support in the considerations (the other consideration so specific it would be odd not to take it, too, as something having actually been suggested, evidencing, perhaps, their understanding of a variety of opinions and, perhaps, its poles), I don’t read support so much as acknowledgement (and without the latter of these two given its acknowledgement (lol), ‘support’ seems rather muddled itself, conceptually, considering the previous statements mentioned). I suggest, again, that the mention of retraction was hardly written as a statement of what they were planning to do in light of the mistakes they were apologizing for, and none of the apology wholly was written as policy itself (i.e., as something we might prudently consider the editorial responsibility of Hypatia and, then, begin to deliberate over potential impropriety.)Report

Clement
Clement
Reply to  Paul Whitfield
3 years ago

Paul Whitfield,
Members of the editorial board signed the petition requesting retraction (e.g.,Talia Mae Bettcher).Report

Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
Reply to  Clement
3 years ago

To be much too brief about this, Clement, that still doesn’t make the apology the open letter, much less rhetorical analysis of the latter that of the former (note my mention of loud, active voices being part and parcel to feminist philosophizing, above).Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Paul Whitfield
3 years ago

I don’t think these are plausible readings (in particular, the signatories of the apology both in the text and on social media clearly intended to be understood as speaking for the journal, not just as individuals), – but, since the Board of Directors of Hypatia also agree that the apology was inappropriate and have taken sensible steps in response, I’m not sure how much is gained by relitigating things. Report

Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
Reply to  David Wallace
3 years ago

We think of things differently, David, then. ‘Relitigation’ can seem more reasonable to me considering our difference in views, as it is, where we also disagree about the propriety of the Directors actions. I’m not a Director, and reasonably have as much say as any other individual of the general community to which Hypatia might feel themselves accountable, but for it’s worth I’m left rather glum at how this whole affair has gone, in the main. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Paul Whitfield
3 years ago

Oh, sorry: I didn’t mean you couldn’t reasonably object, since you don’t agree with the directors; I mean I’m not sure there’s much point *me* further pushing my interpretation of the letter, since it looks as if the Directors have the same interpretation and have acted on that basis, and since I don’t have much to add to their comments and to my original comments at the time.Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
3 years ago

The OP states, “From this point forward, everyone involved in the governance of Hypatia will be required to commit to COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) principles, which include respect for the autonomy of the Editors and the integrity of the peer review process.” But this was never the main problem. If the originarl reviewers had rejected the article for exactly the reasons given by those calling for its retraction, that would not have violated the autonomy of the editors or the integrity of the peer review process. The fundamental problem isn’t interference witth the peer-review process, but that the reasons given by those seeking retraction were seen by many as reasonable grounds for rejecting the article in the first place.Report

Alan White
Alan White
Reply to  Hey Nonny Mouse
3 years ago

But we do not occupy that possible world where the protest-reasons prevailed with the reviewers, and where this whole controversy thus never happened, and the autonomy and integrity of peer review were never questioned. In this actual world autonomy and respect for the peer review process and the standards for such thus became the issue. As a consequence examining the nature of the “reasons given by those seeking retraction by many” must focus on those “reasons” and how “many” objectors we’re talking about (though really how “many” is not the real issue at all). But make no mistake about it–the issue is about norms and autonomy and integrity of the peer review process–you can’t separate these multiply-related things with a facile counterfactual where some norms are conveniently preserved by never being questioned in the first place.Report

TG
TG
3 years ago

For me, the issue is not whether the article should be retracted or not, but that when challenged, they threw the reviewers under the bus. Reviewers do a thankless job for free, and deserve better than that.Report

Dale Miller
Reply to  TG
3 years ago

The reviewers, unlike the author, were at least protected by anonymity. Report

RE
RE
3 years ago

I know this isn’t generous, but I just have an extremely hard time seeing those who called for retraction being sincere. As Wallace points retraction seems meaningless in many aspects. It wouldn’t keep the article from being read, discussed, or even cited. In fact, the controversy over the article made sure that many more people discussed it and read it than would have otherwise. So the critics ensured that ideas they claimed were causing harm were much more widely disseminated than they would have otherwise been. By their own logic then they were further harming the people the article supposedly harmed (mind you I never found those harm claims convincing). I just can’t believe that most of them were so naive that they didn’t see that increased publicity for the offending article would be the predictable result, and retraction would have done nothing to change any of that since it would still be out there. If anything a formal retraction would have only gotten the article more attention. So all that it would have done is seriously damaged any tenure case Tuvel might have made by making one of her publications actually count against her. There’s no plausible way I can read this where the actions of most of the critics didn’t simply come down to an attempt to punish a fellow philosopher for their ideas.Report

Ori
Ori
3 years ago

I think they should have appologized to Tuvel, or at least acknowledge that there is an individual victim (who has also a name) who has been singled out in this affair, and that much harm, if not most of it, has been done to her, beside the editors or the journal.Report